15 Clever Ways to Use Leftover Red Wine

Not sure what to do with that leftover red wine? Don't just down the bottle—try these creative ideas instead!
bottle of leftover red wine on a dark counter top

A great bottle of red wine doesn't last long in my house, and easily gets tossed. Wine experts say this is a mistake, as there are many clever ways to use leftover red wine.

Red wine is touted for its health benefits, from reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack to increasing bone density and more. But, how long is it actually safe to drink after opening? Thirty-six hours max, said David DeLuca, owner of LA Wine in Los Angeles.

Red wine typically starts to oxidize about 24 hours after opening, and after that, he said, "It's not really a matter of safety if you drink week-old wine; it just tastes gross."

"The initial shock of oxygen that a wine receives when a bottle is opened helps it to open up and fully express its aromas and flavors, but prolonged exposure to oxygen can spoil the wine and turn it into vinegar," said Darren Scott, chief sommelier and general manager of Estate Wine Brokers. Scott suggests using the wine for something other than drinking if you see signs of cloudiness and a sour, stale odor.

We asked Scott, DeLuca, and other wine experts to share their 15 favorite ways to use leftover red wine.

1

Sauces

Low-calorie steals with red wine sauce
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Cooking with wine is an age-old technique, but it's also a great way to avoid wasting leftover red wine, Scott said. Red wine is full of antioxidants, which can protect blood vessels, prevent blood clots, and reduce levels of the "bad" LDL cholesterol. Cooking with red wine could impact some of these benefits, but research published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology in 2011 found that red wine can still relax blood vessels when heated to up to 257 degrees Fahrenheit.

Get the recipe for Steak in a Red Wine Pan Sauce.

2

Butter

grilled steak topped with red wine butter next to steak fries
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Flavored butter is a versatile refrigerator staple that can easily be turned into a pan sauce in minutes, and leftover red wine is a flavorful add-in. Red wine butter pairs especially well with steak.

Get the recipe for Grilled Steak with Red Wine Butter.

3

Glazes

strawberry red wine glazed salmon on a plate of rice
Cupcakes & Kale CHips

Red wine reductions make flavorful glazes for meats and vegetables, Scott said. The addition of a full-bodied red wine makes dishes taste like they took hours to make. Pair leftover red wine, orange marmalade, and strawberries with salmon.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Red Wine Glazed Salmon from Cupcakes & Kale Chips.

4

Marinades

red wine marinated flank stake with cherry tomato caprese salsa on a dark plate and background
How Sweet Eats

Leftover red wine works well in marinades, Scott said. The acidity of red wine helps tenderize meat, like steak and chicken, and keeps it moist while cooking.

Get the recipe for Red Wine Marinated Flank Steak With Cherry Tomato Caprese Salsa from How Sweet Eats.

5

Sangria

stawberry pomegranate sangri
Sally's Baking Addiction

Sangria—a mix of red wine, muddled fruit, brandy, sugar, and ice—is a simple way to use up leftover red wine, and a "refreshing Spanish treat" perfect for summer, Scott said. Sangria can incorporate just about any fruity flavor.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Pomegranate Sangria from Sally's Baking Addiction.

6

Spritzers

tart cherry red wine spritzer
Running to the Kitchen

Scott suggests adding club soda, ice, and fruit as a garnish to leftover red wine to make a classic spritzer. Leftover wine lends itself to endless spritzer recipes, including using flavored sparkling water and different fruits. Cherry and rosemary pair well for a refreshing spritzer.

Get the recipe for a Tart Cherry Wine Spritzer from Running to the Kitchen.

7

Mulled Wine

blueberry mulled wine on a red table
Live Eat Learn

Mulled wine is best enjoyed during the cold-weather months, and it tops Scott's list of best leftover red wine uses. Simmer red wine with brandy, fruit, and spices for a cozy drink traditionally served around the holidays, he said. Blueberries, cinnamon, and clove can turn leftover red wine into Glühwein, a cozy German holiday drink.

Get the recipe for Blueberry Glühwein from Live Eat Learn.

8

Vinegar

fruit and vinegar shrub mocktail
Love and Olive Oil

Homemade vinegar can easily be made from leftover red wine, Scott said. Combine three parts red wine to one part vinegar, and let it age in a container for three or four weeks, he explained. Use homemade vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, or to make a shrub for cocktails or mocktails.

Get the recipe for a Fruit and Vinegar Shrub Mocktail from Love & Olive Oil.

RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.

9

Ice Cubes

frozen red ice cubes
Shutterstock

Melanie Kaman, sommelier at Baltaire in Los Angeles, suggests storing leftover red wine in the refrigerator to make it last longer or freeze in ice trays to create "wine ice cubes." The ice cubes can be used later for sauces or in glasses of sangria to make it more intense, she said.

10

Chocolate Ganache

red wine chocolate ganache on a chocolate bundt cake with fruit
Sallys Baking Addiction

Along with flavoring savory sauces and marinades, leftover red wine works well in sweet recipes, like chocolate ganache. Melt semi-sweet chocolate with heavy cream, wine, butter, and cocoa powder for a rich ganache that's tasty drizzled over ice cream or fruit or as a brownie or cake topping.

Get the recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Ganache from Sally's Baking Addiction.

11

Moisturizer

red wine in a tub
Shutterstock

Beyond sauces, cocktails, and treats, leftover red wine can be used in non-edible ways, including as a skin moisturizer, Scott said. Red wine contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that can protect the skin from free radicals, which can cause wrinkles and fine lines. Resveratrol can also nourish and exfoliate the skin, and Scott suggests adding a cup of leftover red wine to a bath.

12

Produce Cleaner

cherries being rinsed in a sink
Shutterstock

Red wine contains several antimicrobial properties that can be used to help rinse off fruits and vegetables or as a general disinfectant. Scott said a small amount of leftover red wine kills surface bacteria on produce.

13

Composting

compost pile in a bin
Shutterstock

As more people embrace composting to cut down on food waste, Scott recommends adding a small amount of leftover red wine to the compost heap to jumpstart bacteria activity. The compost will later nourish your garden.

14

Fruit Fly Trap

fruit fly trap with a wine glass
Shutterstock

Fruit flies are a common summer nuisance, and leftover red wine can be used to set a trap. Fruit flies are attracted to wine and vinegar, so leaving a bottle or glass of leftover red wine out with a few drops of dish soap can help get rid of the pests, according to Good Housekeeping.

15

Preserve Leftover Wine

small wine bottles to preserve
Shutterstock

LA Wine's DeLuca said finishing a bottle of red wine isn't a problem he typically has, but for those with leftover wine, he has a preservation solution. DeLuca suggests purchasing multiple half, or 375 mL, bottles of your favorite wine and saving the bottles.

"The next time you open a bottle and know you're only going to have two glasses, pour the rest into a half bottle and cork it," he said. "Air is what kills wine—no air, no dead wine. Toss that half bottle in the fridge, and it's good for two weeks if it lasts that long."

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Erica Sweeney
Erica Sweeney is a freelance food, nutrition, and wellness writer. Read more
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